Former Toyota-GM exec Mark Hogan, longtime bridge between U.S. and Japan, dies

Jessica Thompson

TOKYO – Mark Hogan, the former General Motors executive who helped establish the American automaker’s Nummi joint venture with Toyota before going on to lead mega-supplier Magna and eventually joining Toyota as a board member under then CEO Akio Toyoda, has died.

The longtime bridge between the U.S. and Japanese auto worlds passed on April 16. He was 71.

Hogan was brought in as a director at Japan’s biggest automaker in 2013 as one of its first outside board members to inject a dose of American business mindset.

At the time, Hogan was the first foreigner on Toyota’s board since 2007 and the first outside director ever, as part of an attempt to breathe fresh perspective into the Japanese automaker.

He joined Toyota Motor at the invitation of Akio Toyoda, with whom he worked at the New United Motor Manufacturing factory jointly operated by Toyota and GM in California.

Hogan worked at Nummi from 1997-2002, Akio at Nummi from 1998-1999.

In 30 years of management with GM, Hogan had experience in manufacturing, vehicle development, small-car planning, Web commerce and foreign market development.

He also oversaw GM’s Brazil operations before leaving the automaker to become president of supplier Magna International in 2004, a stint lasting three years. Hogan later became president of Dewey Investments. The longtime automotive leader retired from Toyota’s board in 2018.

“It is with deep sadness that we learned our friend and former Toyota Motor Corporation Board Member, Mark T. Hogan, passed away,” Toyota said in a statement. “Our thoughts are with Mark’s family and friends during this difficult time. He will be missed by all of us.”

Hogan, a soft-spoken executive with a diplomatic knack for intercultural sensitivities, was dispatched by GM as a “Nummi Commando” to ferret out the secrets of the Toyota Way.

Among Hogan’s observations was that Toyota used more manual labor than GM expected but that the erstwhile Japanese rival’s efficiency came from making plant workers more productive.

Hogan noticed that while GM plant supervisors ran 30 to 35 people, NUMMI teams were five or six people. NUMMI workers, he later said, “were taught to be essentially industrial engineers” who did multiple tasks. UAW workers at GM plants worked within rigid job classifications.

His assessment: Matching Toyota would require companywide change at GM.

The American’s straight-talk and probing questions earned the respect of Akio, who was impressed enough to later seek out his expertise to help the Japanese automaker.

As a Toyota director, one of Hogan’s roles was to advise on Toyota’s Latin America business.

While at Magna, of Aurora, Ontario, Hogan was known for improving Magna’s visibility in the auto industry and for increasing sales to Asian companies. He was also a champion of efforts to bring Magna’s European full vehicle assembly concept to North America.

Hogan earned his undergraduate degree at the University of Illinois and a master’s degree in business administration from Harvard University. He joined General Motors in 1973.

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